The Headset Revolution will be a blizzard of conflicting realities—if it happens, that is

I’ve had an OR DSK2 for about three weeks now and things need to get a lot better. It is to heavy, it is too hot, you don’t like to move your head because it’s too heavy and it makes you sick. The resolution is horrible and there are way to many wires. There is a little bit of presence but I would say that it’s some where around 30% on the average. The 1994 reference is probably pretty accurate. Though I believe that this will scale faster than the vcr to the dvd. And probably just like the internet and television most of it will be crap but there will be some game changers. Of course there is the Dystopian view that you give all the people a headset and have them live in a 3 x 3 air conditioned cube with a rift attached to their face so they think they live at the Taj Mahal and are eating surf and turf each day while they assemble more Rifts.

The major areas that might have been left out here of the “future of VR” conversation is Porn and alternate reality experiences. I believe 3d porn is going to find a big audience among Rifters, especially with the cam crowd. The part of Alternate reality concepts that I like is being present when and where a historical event happened. Anything from being in the trenches in WWI to witnessing the Kennedy Assassination on the Grassy Knoll. To being there with Elizabeth Eckford on her first day of school. And if you really want to get crazy we can talk about doing the whole Jesus thing. Experiencing these events will give Presence an artificial time machine. Personally I think the phrase “Making the impossible possible” is the way to look at this whole VR new wave. Of course I could be completely wrong.

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There is a crew of developers, Zero Latency, in Melbourne that have decided to use the Oculus in a pretty unique setup, which apparently overcomes a the sickness problem in most people. They essentially chucked some Playstation Move lights to the helmet, and another to your weapon (yes this is a shoting game of sorts), they then chucked motion sensors all throughout a large mainly empty room. Apparently if you’re taking a real step and that corresponds to what is happening in the in game world you don’t get the nasuea that is often associated with the “press this button to move forward, but move your head like you normally would” disassociation.

I’ve no idea if it is actually true, but it certainly is an interesting take on the VR concept. Maybe “arcades” will have a renaissance if really good VR requires a specialised physical space to play.

Gizmodo wrote about the Zero Latency setup a few months ago. From what I heard in a recent radio interview development has come a fair way since then and they’re pretty close to a launch of the tech.


Hey Geoffrey, yeah been a while - I just got back in town and will be at Oculus Connect, but will shoot you a line as well to maybe check out what you’re up to? Was killing time at the airport w/ that post, really as a bit of a kneejerk reaction on the stuff he was writing about comfort (“Nobody knows, nobody’s talking about it much”) - it’s a bit bizarre since the issue actually is mentioned in practically any non-blurby writeup, is talked about constantly both in dev and enthusiast forums, and of course, has decades of (admittedly, rather un-evenly relevant) research across many, many disciplines.

All of which is very separate from the ideas of what kinds of experiences VR can be used for. Coming from XOXO, the idea of a medium that can allow people to learn/experience empathy is quite appealing, inspiring even, but I fear that it will most likely end up like Farnworth’s hopes for television as teaching tool, or early net theorists’ ideas of the Internet as democratizing force/equalizer.

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Of course the iGlasses will solve all these issues.

Sixense wants to use Rift with motion capture as an immersive CAD software interface, so there’s that

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Not all VR hardware can be used just with a desktop. Beyond Oculus the other big player is Sony’s Project Morpheus that is for the PlayStation 4. Then there is Samsung’s Gear VR will run on the Galaxy Note 4, running Android, which Oculus is responsible for the SDK.

Anyways, just looking at Oculus, there is a lot of software built to run it at really low level. The Oculus DK1 ran at 60 frames per second, while the DK2 runs as 75 frames per second, while they are aiming at 90 frames per second. Oculus is sinking a huge amount of resources and money into trying to get the software and hardware to work right. They continue to release update after update to the firmware and software trying to improve things. It’s very different from just outputting to a monitor, so I don’t see there ever being a common layer between systems.

That said, both Firefox and Chrome are working on browsers that will integrate with Oculus Rift using their SDK and in the process working on a WebVR API, so that it could work with other VR devices. Then WebGL site could be used for a VR experience, but so far it’s no where fast enough for even a very basic VR experience. Maybe one day, but feels very far away right now.


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